ONU Habitat for Humanity participates in alternate spring break.
College students typically head south for spring break, but they don’t often go there to work. This week, 130 Ohio Northern University students are trading sunglasses and beach towels for safety glasses and drop cloths as they participate in Habitat for Humanity’s Collegiate Challenge at four locations throughout the southeast.
Students left Ada this weekend for Greenwood, S.C.; Davidson, N.C.; Albany, Ga.; and Jackson, Miss.; where they will volunteer with local Habitat affiliates to either build new homes or rehab homes damaged by natural disasters.
Sights and sounds from Habitat's spring break trip to Jackson, Miss., last year.
“It is an incredible gift to be able to help give that to someone. Every homeowner I have met has been incredibly hard-working, gracious and thankful. Beyond the people we go help, it is the people of Habitat that make all the difference,” says Molly Wascher, fourth-year pharmacy major and chapter vice president.
The people of Habitat include ONU students, faculty and staff members who volunteer time and labor to help a family in need. During the course of one week, they learn how to perform construction tasks required to build a home from the foundation up — from framing a house to roofing, from siding to painting, from caulking to even building stairs.
After the work is finished for the day, the volunteers spend time together as a group playing games, singing worship songs and engaging in meaningful discussions. As a student organization under the leadership of ONU Religious Life, Habitat is a spiritual group. These annual spring break trips give students the opportunity to gain a relationship with the community they are helping rebuild and strengthen their relationship with God.
Each year, the students select a Bible verse to provide inspiration. This year’s verse is from 1 Peter 4:10: “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”
According to Wascher, the verse has motivated Habitat to get more of the ONU student body involved in their annual trips, which they have done. Including a trip to New Orleans this winter, the group will have traveled to five locations this year alone, more than any year prior.
“This will be my fourth trip to Jackson and my fifth Habitat trip total,” says Wascher. “I have often been asked why I continue to go on these trips instead of relaxing at home or going to the beach. All it takes is to meet one homeowner and realize you are building more than a house; you a building a home. A home is not only a basic essential for humans; it is the place where we build a family and make memories.”
Perhaps the same can be said of spring break.
The four groups will return to campus on March 9. To follow the Habitat Humanity Collegiate Challenge on Twitter, use the hashtags #collegiatechallenge and #HabitatSpringBreak.